Jamaica will be the the first Caribbean nation to participate in a Rugby League World Cup in 2021, and the sport has received a massive boost on the island.
The Reggae Warriors won the Americas Championship last autumn after beating favourites USA and Canada in Jacksonville, Florida.
The RLWC2021 team recently visited Jamaica for the latest stage of the international development programme, helping develop good practice and sharing knowledge and experience with the Caribbean nation.
Tracy Power, RLWC2021 legacy programme manager, said: “The trip to Jamaica was one to remember.
“The IDP plays an integral part in ensuring that RLWC2021’s aims are met, and the welcome and subsequent reaction we received shows that everyone’s efforts are being rewarded.
“The sport in Jamaica is on the rise following their sensational qualification to RLWC2021, and it was great to be able to boost the excitement for the local communities, as well as seeing some of the talented grassroots rugby league in Kingston.”
The RLWC2021 team delivered workshops with the Jamaican Rugby League Association to share tips on governance, marketing, sport development and talent identification.
The trip included a series of community engagement opportunities, including; a RLWC2021 presentation as part of the annual Caribbean Sports Science Conference at the University of Technology, a rugby league coaching session with students at Cedar Grove Academy and meeting students at G C Foster College and Campion College; as well as attending the schools 9s Championship.
Romeo Monteith, JRLA director of rugby, said: “The IDP trip helped to build new partnerships with important stakeholders on the island and the transfer of knowledge in the workshop will greatly benefit our administrators, many of whom have already begun to change the way they manage their clubs.
“There was a genuine excitement and buzz created in the local rugby league family, to see the trophy up close in schools and colleges has brought home just how massive of an achievement Jamaica’s qualification to RLWC2021 is.
“The visit means that another generation of players and administrators will be inspired. It took ten years of passion and dedication to get here and now others will be inspired to repeat this adventure in the future.”
Rugby league is on the rise in Jamaica thanks to the country’s qualification to the 2021 World Cup, which is held in England.
There is a huge Jamaican population in England, so the Reggae Warriors could be in for a nice surprise in terms of the crowds they attract at the tournament. They could be everybody’s favourite second team, just like Tonga and Fiji were in 2017.
Jamaica won the Americas Championship last year against all odds and the island is continuing to embrace rugby league. Let’s hope rugby league continues to reach new heights in Jamaica.